Many have raved about the benefits of remote work---the glorious luxury of not having to worry about a nosy coworker hovering over your desk, annoying smells from lunches, or a manager constantly clocking your every move. Before the madness that is COVID-19, I enjoyed life as a professional who could work from anywhere. Other than a few struggle jobs here and there, I've never looked back---until now.
Once everyone started working from home, I began to realize that what was once seen as wonderfully alternative and out-of-the-box turned into a stressful, soul-stealing pandemic-era necessity. We free-spirited, self-motivated, flex-loving professionals now had to share our space, time, and peace with neighbors, family, and friends who were forced to embrace a newness far from normal for them. And trust me, we've all suffered in one way or another.
Bye-bye advantages and hello disenchantment. The luster of working from home is gone. Here are 5 good reasons why, and how you can take back your joy, one boundary at a time:
Work From Home Con: Noise, distractions, noise, and distractions. Oh yeah, and more noise.
You'd think that working from home would mean you could create a peaceful and ideal environment---on your own terms---to get your work done. You'd be vibrating high, more productive, and able to conduct the day at your own pace. Yeah. Right. If it's not fighting and crying kids causing a ruckus while you're trying to lead a presentation, it's your husband forgetting that you are indeed at work, yelling at the TV while watching sports replays during his breaks. Don't have a spouse or kids? Well, you'll feel like you do with all the screaming, stomping, vacuuming, scraping, meowing, chirping, and barking you can hear through the walls and ceiling.
Don't live in an apartment building? Doesn't matter. Everybody and their mama works from home or seemingly has more free time to shop, walk their dogs, take a mid-day drive, or test the bass in their car sound systems at noon. You're now home to hear all the landscaping buzzing, firetruck sirens, and construction pounding that you would've missed while at the office.
Remedy: When noise-cancelling earphones and ear plugs become a bit too much to bear, try hanging noise-reducing curtains on your windows. (This is a life-saver! I mean, who knew a whole world of peace could be found in a swath of material made specifically for blocking sound?) Check for gaps around fixtures, door casings and switch boxes and try filling those with acoustic sealant. Add carpet or rugs on hardwood floors where there's lots of movement. Rearrange your office so that you're away from windows or relocate to a more quiet area of your home. Try setting quiet hours in your house, and if that's just impossible, ask your company about options for covering the cost of a well-sanitized coworking space.
Image via Giphy
Work From Home Con: Boundaries? What are those?
Even for us formerly free-wheeling flex professionals, there were boundaries. We could set a limit on how long per day we'd work on a project or goal. We'd have set places and times where work-related activities were off-limits and we could prioritize other aspects of our lives that had nothing to do with the hustle of making money to pay our bills. The average traditional worker also had boundaries in the form of office hours, and they could literally shut down their computer, get in their car, on a bus, or on a train, leave work behind, and go home.
Well now, home is work, and the lines have been blurred indefinitely. The boss who didn't know the meaning of offline or "out of office" has taken demanding to a whole other level and has gotten downright disrespectful and unreasonable with the heightened productivity expectations. Team members you'd have to remind not to expect responses to early-morning emails are now sending more emails for the most trivial things.
Remedy: Put your foot down, communicate your need for boundaries sternly yet respectfully, and take back your life. Focus in on solutions such as delegation, changes in communication protocols, hiring extra house help, or shifting workplace and household duties. Schedule breaks like you'd schedule appointments, and be deliberate about actually leaving the house, even if it's just to walk around your yard, step out on the patio, or stroll at a nearby park. Set a timer and stick to a schedule. Creating no-work zones in my apartment and saying no to anything that disrespects the whole premise of privacy and personal time has worked wonders!
Image via Giphy
Work From Home Con: Wifi woes, high energy bills, and technology glitches are now par for the course.
I could write a whole separate story about the atrocities of professionals challenged with having to rely on their own computers and home wireless connections to get work done. (Some companies ought to be outright ashamed of and maybe even fined for their lack of attention to proper tech protocols and apathy in providing remote-work amenities, but I digress.)
If you've experienced slower speeds for downloads and video calls, and higher energy bills, then you know what I'm talking about. Some of us were already struggling with getting quality yet affordable Wifi with high speeds for streaming video and doing the usual things on the Web, but now that everyone's working from home, we're all sucking the proverbial "high-speed" networks dry. And I don't care what any telecom professional or tech expert says, I know I've been negatively impacted. No matter how many times I upgrade, buy storage, delete apps, save on "the cloud" or pay for add-ons, I still run into problems. If you've had it with technology-related problems and fluctuating bills to the point where you are literally two seconds from throwing that router, laptop, and TV out of your third-floor window, trust me sis, you're not alone.
Remedy: I've found it helpful to complete the bulk of my work during the early morning or late-night hours (or times when most people are either sleeping or not working.) Talk with your boss or company about adjusting your work hours or providing you with the tech you need to cut stress and add efficiency to your work-from-home processes. Look into tax breaks or subsidy programs and shop around for deals. Also, look into other areas where you can access Wifi during the day. (My building actually has outdoor and indoor lounge spaces where I can access Wifi, and after a recent visit I noticed that hardly anybody actually takes advantage of them.)
Work From Home Con: The walls are closing in on me, and loneliness is setting in---fast.
There's but so much redecorating, re-organizing, and switching things up a sis can do, and when you're used to being able to travel or at least having the option of changing scenery, that lonely feeling of being stuck can be debilitating. (I'm also in a long-distance relationship. Forced quarantine and border closings negatively impacted my mental health tremendously.) Not only was I missing my bae, but I even missed the annoying aspects of travel like long customs lines and tedious baggage checks. Zoom, Whats App, or whatever platform you choose can never replace real in-person connection, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who gets sick of going to the same parks, stores, or rooms of the house to do things. I'd had enough.
Remedy: Some folks might disagree with this, but I had to take a trip. (I mean, in my defense, I didcontinue to self-quarantine well after the world "opened" and people began going outside again, and I recently had to test for Covid-19 in order to finally visit my fiance.) I've taken small steps to feel more comfortable with going out again---masked up and armed with my hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for sure. I still limit attending social events or being in crowds larger than 20 people, and even when visiting restaurants I ask to be seated outdoors or in sections that are practically empty. If going out is not an option for you, join a new organization and attend virtual happy hours or mixers. Volunteer to help others---whether virtually or in person---and find creative ways to network. Get into a new prayer or meditation routine, or pick up a new hobby.
Image via Giphy
Work From Home Con: A love for fashion and style is replaced by a lazy affinity for bummy chic.
I used to get excited by the mere possibility of seeing someone I know at a restaurant, being invited out to an event, or having a special occasion to get dressed for. Once Covid-19 hit, everything changed, including my motivation to take care of my physical self. There was a point where I couldn't tell you the last time I actually put real thought into a coordinating a cute outfit or even wearing shoes that don't either lace up or slip on. I found myself becoming lazier and lazier about refining my look, and I'd even packed most of my favorite outfits away. I'd fallen off the fashion wagon to the point that I'd get anxiety when tasked with wearing anything other than underwear or sweats and a T-shirt. And let's not talk about hair. My poor curly 'fro had been tragically neglected---suffocated by a bonnet, scarf, or hat most of the time. I truly couldn't recognize the person in the mirror anymore.
Remedy: Find inspiration and get into chic loungewear. My love for fashion and shopping used to be part of my self-care, so I woke up one day, and inspired by YouTubers like Monroe Steele, decided to invest in some pieces---adding color, patterns, and different textures to the mix. I got into fun accessories like fedoras, vanity glasses, headbands, and belts. I unpacked my "fancy" pieces and hung them back in my closet. I also began making deep conditioning treatments, eyebrow shaping, and twist-outs part of my self-care routine. Give yourself permission to invest in your look---whatever that investment entails---and go the extra mile to treat yourself when you can.
We all deserve it after surviving one hell of a year.
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In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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If you followed Beyoncé’s career, then you know how hair has played an important role in her journey. Her mom, Ms. Tina Knowles, owned a hair salon when the multi-Grammy award-winning artist was growing up, and she has shared on several occasions how it impacted her life. We’ve also witnessed her many hair transformations throughout her career, from braids to her signature long, straight honey blonde tresses. However, it was her pixie cut in 2013 that had everyone talking.
Beyoncé and Tina launched Cécred (pronounced sacred), a hair care line that includes a clarifying shampoo and scalp scrub, a hydrating shampoo, a nourishing hair oil, and much more. The mother-daughter duo opened up about their latest business venture together to Essence in its March/April issue, and the “Alien Superstar” revisited her haircut and how it reflected a life change.
“It did. That’s right. I love how we associate a certain hairstyle with moments in our lives, like that short-hair moment. I remember the day I decided to just cut all my hair off. I didn’t have a particular style in mind,” she explained.
“It wasn’t an aesthetic choice, but it was a very big emotional transformation and metamorphosis that I was going through. So much of my identity as a performer has been connected to flowing hair. Cutting my hair off was me rebelling against being this woman that society thinks I’m supposed to be.”
Beyonc\u00e9 to ESSENCE Magazine on her 2013 pixie cut:\n\n"I remember the day I decided to just cut all my hair off. I didn\u2019t have a particular style in mind. It wasn\u2019t an aesthetic choice, but it was a very big emotional transformation and metamorphosis that I was going through."\ud83d\ude2d\ud83e\udd79— (@)
She continued, “I was a new mother, and something about the liberation of becoming a mother made me want to just shed all of that. It was a physical representation of me shedding the expectations put upon me. I just wanted it off.
Neal Farinah, my hairstylist and friend, was freaking out because it was really long, really thick and really healthy. I just got the scissors and chopped it off. It was very intentional. And it was what I needed to do. And after that, I became super brave. It was the first step to many more audacious decisions I made in my life and my career that have led to who I am now.”
Throughout the interview, Beyoncé shared how her new hair line is her “legacy” and how she wants to use her line to highlight the versatility of textured hair.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy